When I read about Lotus Symphony, IBM's spanking new free office suite, I was intrigued and decided to try it out during my lunch hour. Unfortunately, it took most of that hour just to get through the registration process.
Here's what to expect if you want to try Symphony:
Choose which OS you use (Linux or Windows). Click on Continue.
Sign in with your IBM ID and password. Don't have one? What a
surprise! Click on "register now."
Type in an IBM ID, password, security question and answer, e-mail
address, and country/region of residence. Click on Continue.
Fill in the fields indicated with an asterisk, which includes your first name, last name, daytime phone, company name ("But this is for personal use!" Too bad), country/region, company street address, and city, state, and ZIP code. Click Submit.
Phew! Thank you for registering with ibm.com. Click Continue.
Sign in with your new IBM ID and Password. Click Submit.
OK, finally! Here's a page titled "IBM Lotus Symphony Beta." Agree
to the license, and click "I confirm."
You can download the suite using IBM's Download Director (a Java
applet), or via your browser. If you want to use the latter, click on the
"download using http" link.
The "Download now" link will now initiate a browser-based download.
And you're a go!
Compare this to the process of downloading the OpenOffice.org office suite:
Go to the OpenOffice.org download page. Click on "get openoffice.org."
Choose whether you want to select your operating system, order the
suite on CD, or download it via P2P.
Click on your preferred OS.
Click on "continue to download." And you're a go.
I'd like to respectfully offer the folks at IBM a bit of advice: If you really want to be known for your free office suite, let users download your product without making them suffer for it first.
If you're wondering whether IBM Lotus Symphony is worth all that hassle, we'll have a review for you on Monday. Meanwhile, how do you feel about difficult registrations for free software? Offer your opinion at the InformationWeek Blog.
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